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Five Questions Paving the Path to Project Success

While sometimes perceived as hard to achieve, a successful project, or one defined as a project that receives at least an 80% satisfaction rating at the end, is within reach. The steps taken just before a utility project kicks off can provide clues as to whether the project will be a success or lead you down a path of challenges and bumpy roads. This one moment is often the deciding moment of productivity vs. time consuming or clarity vs. confusion. The secret to success lies within one meeting, and in this one meeting is a discussion of five questions.

  1. Has the company identified the driving factors that affect productivity, schedule and cost overruns?

It is crucial for the project’s stakeholders to conduct an analysis, pinpointing what is impacting these key areas. This requires asking enough questions of the current state of the company as well as looking at gathered data. From there, discuss these findings with a new understanding and new perspective of what could affect the project’s productivity, schedule and cost overruns. With a clear picture, prioritized factors can be changed and address how to shift these common dominators. It is important to recognize that not everything on the list needs to be addressed, but instead focus the team’s time and effort on those that are easily attainable and that can make the greatest impact.

  1. Has the company improved high levels of safety and operational reliability?

Be sure to have benchmarks from previous projects on the levels of safety and operational reliability. This will be the starting point of conversation when you kick off the next project. There are several risk factors to analyze for utility projects, including:

  • Overworked employees
  • Effective communications 
  • Lack of consistency on the standards

These risks are sure to be key impacts to the safety and reliability of your project, which can be a deciding factor of success or challenge.

  1. Has the company created cost and time efficiencies while achieving more manageable workloads?

The key words to this question are manageable workloads.  This can seem like an oxymoron in the utility industry – where organizations often operate on a 24/7, emergency response protocol in order to ensure they are providing 100% uptime for their customers. That changes their perspective on cost and time efficiencies. The constant nature of those high demands coupled with emergent issues make it easy to overlook the basic elements and the logistics of the team members. It is easy to forget about the environment these employees are in and the impact on their responsibilities, such as travel times, preparation for meetings and managing broad service areas. It’s important to use this planning time to look at the workloads and ensure all stakeholders are familiar with the basic efficiencies and responsibilities of each team member.

  1. Has the company achieved greater transparencies for project progress?

Every company has at least two generations that make up its workforce. When these generations work differently it can inhibit transparency – and ultimately, the productivity of a project. It is essential for the success of a project for all teams to work together. To improve this, stakeholders should discuss how to achieve greater transparencies for across the entire workforce before a project even begins. Identify what tools will help bridge this gap. For example, put in place tools that will automate workflows and rely on displays to make workflows visual.

  1. Has the company improved overall employee satisfaction?

The repercussions of an unsatisfied employee can be detrimental to a project’s success. It can introduce anger, animosity, lack of collaboration, low productivity and low performance to a project team, inhibiting productivity and advancement. It’s important to face this directly. Make it a priority to ensure your employees are feeling satisfied in their roles. Start with understanding their points of frustration, then ask, analyze and even re-design workflows to help solve their challenges. An employee that feels heard, recognized and valued will certainly show up fully engaged and willing to collaborate more with other team members. 

Taking time to gather the stakeholders for one meeting before a project kicks off can be the difference between success and disappointment at a project’s end. It is critical to analyze the state of your team from all angles, knowing that if your organization is running smoothly, then your projects have a greater chance of also running smoothly.


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